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2018 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

‘Kuleana’ Opens for One-Week Engagement on Lāna‘i

Posted April 12th, 2018 by Visual Communications in Press

Posted on MauiNow

The Maui-made film KULEANA continues its run in island theaters–including the opening of a one-week engagement in the Lānaʻi Theater starting this Friday, April 13, 2018.

Writer/Director Brian Kohne and actor Bill Hensley, who is a resident of Lānaʻi, will represent the production with free commemorative posters for the Lānaʻi opening.

KULEANA was held over in all locations on Oʻahu, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaiʻi after positive reviews and a strong opening across the state on March 30th.

On Kauaʻi and Guam, the film is in its final night today, as the theater makes room for the new action adventure film, “Rampage” starring the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. During its festival circuit in 2017, the film won the Best of Festival award at the 7th Annual Guam International Film Festival on Oct. 2, 2017.

The accolade gained recognition in the form of a resolution from the Maui County Council last week. “Receiving the County Resolution last Friday was a surprising and incredible experience. Our cast an crew were humbled by the gesture,” Kohne told Maui Now.

An announcement on the next roll-out of the film is expected this weekend at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.


KULEANA was set on Maui in two time periods (1959 and 1971) and features an all-Hawaii cast.  In the film, a disabled Vietnam veteran rediscovers the Hawaiian warrior within to protect his family, defend their land, and clear his father’s name.

KULEANA stars Kristina Anapau, Moronai Kanekoa, Sonya Balmores and features Augie T, Branscombe Richmond and Kainoa Horcajo in supporting roles.  It has a list of some 150 actors and actresses, primarily Maui residents.

The film, whose title explores the topic: “Protect Our Family, Defend This Land,” is a concept that has been attempted in the past by mainland-based filmmakers, but being a completely Hawaiʻi-based film, Kohne says, makes a world of difference.  Kohne said he plans to address legislation at the state-level to support the growth of an industry with more productions “reclaiming our narrative so Hollywood does not have to tell our story for us.”

In the movie, Horcajo explains, his character is a father and school teacher in Hawaiʻi in 1959, and was fired from his teaching position for teaching the Hawaiian language.  “He was sort of that stalwart defender of the Hawaiian culture at a time and era where–this was pre-Hawaiian Renaissance, this was a lot of shame and emotion tied up in being proud of the Hawaiian culture.  Today, we’re so proud and we emphasize our Hawaiianness, and at that time, it was not (the case),” said Horcajo, who described his character as “one of those torch bearers.”

Kanekoa, was cast in the role of Nohea, a Vietnam veteran who recently returned to the island to find that the cost of living is too much, his grandmother is on her deathbed and he is ready to leave the island he once called home.  “Certain events happen, certain people come back into his life that remind him of what’s important.  They bring him back to his family and his home, and his responsibility to take care of that,” said Kanekoa.

Maui’s Kathy Collins, who was an Associate Producer for the film said the film also explored what it means to be local, what it means to be Hawaiian, touched upon political issues of long ago, and shared an underlying theme of aloha.  “There’s so many layers, you’ll probably want to see it several times,” if you haven’t already,  said Collins.

*Pacific Media Group, Maui Now’s parent company is a shareholder in the film Kuleana